Confronting the Charismatic Movement
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We need to deeply evaluate this so-called Charismatic Renewal Movement. There are many who are leading people astray because they believe that the leaders and participants of these churches are truly able to provide miracles. It is a HUGE business right now. Thousands and I mean thousands, of people, are flocking to this type of church setting. They literally are growing faster than any other sect of Christianity right now, and it has been that way for a while now. So, let us analyze the truth behind this movement and expose these people for what they are.
Speaking in Tongues
A bit of a backstory to the book of I Corinthians: Corinth was a major hub for all things spiritual. Predominantly, these paganistic faiths held to a certain level of priesthood. A typical interaction with priests and idols would lead to the experience of “ecstasy”, that is, an experience of the senses. Typically, we might refer to this as “sensual love”, but the meaning is different in the context of the Corinthians. These paganistic priests would visit the idols, and there were many. When they did, they would offer a sacrifice to the said idol, at which time the priest would begin to enter the “spiritual realm of the gods.” At this point, the priest proceeded to have conversations in the language of the pagan gods, but to those around them, it was merely gibberish. This type of out-of-body experience is what is called “mantric—the repeating of several sounds that are unrecognizable.” It is not a “special” interaction with the gods, nor is it the coming of a spirit of the gods. It was simply the convulsing of the body and shouting of gibberish languages that literally nobody could understand. Sound familiar?
So Why Did Paul Need to Address It?
For the same exact reason we need to. The Christians of the church at Corinth were a mixed lot which included those who were formerly paganistic members of society. With the inclusion of these presuppositional understandings of what the “true” experience of spirituality was, the Christians became entangled with the hectic and desperate need to experience “true” spirituality like these pagans were. Many were standing and “speaking in tongues” at a time. It created a state of confusion, chaos, and the stumbling of many a brother or sister. Paul recognized this. That is why the majority of what we find in Corinthians is dealing with the orderly worship of Christian churches. I would point you to I Corinthians 14:26, where Paul addresses the reality of this chaos.
He says, “What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”
So, you can sort of gather the picture of what is going on in this church. Everyone is up, singing a song, having his or her own interpretation, speaking in a weird language that no one knows, and teaching their own doctrines. Overall, the outcome is pure disruption. It is certainly not the reflection of a church that has no confusion! Why else would Paul write about it? He must address the situation so as to educate these folks as to how things should be done in a manner that promotes the edification of all in attendance! Does this sound familiar? He goes on to explain the exact nature of the use of spiritual gifts…Notice something about this. If this matches up with anything you’ve seen involving the Charismatic (Pentecostal) Movement, I would love to know…
“Now brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? It is the same way with lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played?” (I Corinthians 13:6-7)
“So with yourselves; since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church.” (I Corinthians 13:12)
What About Praying in the Language of God?
I have heard this commonly with the response to the speaking of gibberish. “I am speaking in the language of angels, and that is why you do not understand.” I have even heard, “This is a gift because of how faithful I am and how much I believe.” What kind of edification is that? It leaves a young boy or girl wondering, “Why can’t I do that?” This is certainly not edifying. This is not the church of Christians. So why do we know that the language used to speak to God is NOT this gibberish? I would recommend turning to John 17. Here we have the recorded prayer of Jesus Christ to the Father. Why is this vital? BECAUSE JOHN UNDERSTOOD WHAT JESUS WAS SAYING AND RECORDED IT EXACTLY HOW HE HEARD IT. Jesus was praying to God, in a tongue that John understood. He was not babbling on and on about something no one could understand. Look at ANY prayer given in the New Testament. Tell me if that prayer is in a gibberish language. Then, once you find out that it is not there, go to the Old Testament. Guess what? It is not there either! This gibberish business has gone on long enough.
Now go to Matthew 6:7, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”
Why is this important? Because the “meaningless repetition” is literally referring to the repetition of utterances that are pure sounds, not words of any kind. This is not saying, do not ramble with repeated, understandable words. This is literally saying, “do not pray meaningless sounds or noises.” The word is battologeo, meaning “chatter, long-winded, utter empty words, stammer, repeat” or “properly, to blubber nonsensical repetitions” (HELP Word-studies). So, if Jesus did not pray in gibberish, nor did the apostle, nor did ANYONE else in the Bible, why would we accept something that we know to be counterfeit? We wouldn’t. You wouldn't take a counterfeit 100 dollar bill from me in exchange for your real one would you? Of course not! This is modern-day paganism, and we need to confront it and be ready to know how to respond.
I write this so you are aware of the dangers of this movement. This is not what I actually wanted to write about, but I had an encounter that I felt trumped my own agenda (not a divine encounter). This is for your knowledge. Test the spirits. Do not be fooled by the fallibility of men. These people are not good for you. They do not want to glorify God Almighty. They do not care about you. They do not hold to the sound doctrine of the Bible. This is a worthless, perverse, demonic counterfeit to the spiritual gifts talked about in the New Testament. It is a manipulation of the honest truth-seeking people who want to know Christ. It is a manipulation brought about by the lack of knowledge of those who succumb to these perversions. Folks, we need to pray about this.
I truly hope that you are prepared for these overenthusiastically geared people. They want you to be with them. Friends, I would warn you, that if you are with them, you will not be with the sound doctrine of the Bible.
If there is anything I can do to help you, please do not hesitate to ask.
Until next time...